I just got done standing 6 hours of post. Standing post is like watching paint dry, except today, that paint exploded in the form of two mortar rounds that landed right outside the post next to mine. This began a long series of thoughts, beginning with- these people are firing mortars at us, but half of them are landing on a busy street that is teeming with traffic carrying their own countrymen. Do these people have any morals?
My thoughts then drifted to a friend of mine from SOI. His name was De La Torre. This morning I found out that he was one of the wounded Marines that was medevaced yesterday. De la Torre died in surgery. This one hit me hard. I think it was because of De la Torre's personality. It was impossible for this guy to make an enemy. He was 28, had a degree and had been floundering in cubicle America for years. He was also one of the most socially naieve people I knew. The first time I met him I was looking for someone to go into Oceanside with me on a day off from Infantry school on a Saturday. He was of drinking age so he said he'd tag along.
We got into town, walked around for a while, got some food and went down to the beach. It was the first time he had seen the ocean, any ocean. 28 years old and he had never been out of the midwest. We went to a local bar and ordered a few beers. I noticed a couple of beers in that he was starting to slur his words. Turns out he had never drank before. 28 and I was now his first for two significant life moments. A couple more beers in and he begins a conversation with a lady next to him. The kind of lady that hangs out at Marine bars and hopes to find marriage and a paycheck every two weeks. De la Torre fell in love. I dragged him out of that bear trap, but I couldn't escape his conversations about Mandy for the rest of SOI. He fell hard. "I know, I know...it's just...we connected. I know it was only a few minutes, but I felt like she really liked me. I wish I could see her just one more time."
De la Torre was the guy who every time you saw him in Iraq and asked him how he was doing, expecting a "fine, how are you", would instead give you a "You know...I'm good...really good. In fact, I truly feel like I am finding myself over here. I mean...it's hard, and I miss back home....but I know I'm doing good. The sunsets here really put me at peace..."
De la Torre was driving down a road in Iraq. He was holding onto a laptop computer that held all the intel he was in charge of gathering. De la Torre died on an operating table.
So I'm on post, asking myself, "Who are these people? What kind of monster looks at people that leave their families thousands of miles away, to come to a foreign land and help, and says, 'I am going to take 120 lbs of explosives and bury it in the road so that I can take from them what they are trying to give me'?"
What kind of human launches mortars at a base, knowing that if they miss they could cause casualties to their fellow Iraqis, and not only that, but launches them from the cover of a village full of women and children.
Who does this in the name of religion?
But then I come off post. I get on the internet. Yahoo pops up. Va Tech Massacre. Where is our moral superiority? Sometimes we get lost in our own ethnocentricity and lose sight of the fact that we have no shortage of morally void citizens. I can't help but lose faith in mankind.